June, 21 2019 ( Updated June, 21 2019)
Enjoy Lake Como’s annual 'Sagra di San Giovanni' Festival: 22 - 23 June 2019
Take part in this unforgettable festival which brings the unique history of Lake Como’s only island to life…
Renowned for its spectacular firework display, the annual San Giovanni Festival in Ossuccio is one not to miss! The festival is held each summer on the weekend closest to 24th June (the Feast of St John the Baptist). Whether you're particularly religious, a local resident or a curious tourist, the breath-taking spectacle welcomes all and promises to be a truly magical experience, along the beguiling Tremezzina shore.
This Saturday, the picturesque hamlet of Ossuccio and its surrounding villages will burst into life for the festival; with street food and market stalls lining the cobbled streets and a fun fairground atmosphere in the village park to soak up. As the sun sets, as is tradition, all the inhabitants of Ossuccio will light candles in a moving tribute to remember the island's most tragic event; illuminating their window sills, balconies, terraces and shoreline. As this beautiful moment occurs, large numbers of crowds gather and mingle in anticipation for the evening’s great show; the famous firework display!
By this time, hundreds of boats will have congregated in the bay, between Isola Comacina and the Ossuccio shoreline. At 10.30pm the firework display commences!
The illuminations will cast far across the lake water. The sensational backdrop is complemented by the surrounding mountains, which promise incredible natural acoustics. Not just any firework display, the San Giovanni fireworks (with the help of a narrator and accompanying music) tell the vivid legendary story of Isola Comacina. From Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the Wars to the moment in 1169 when the vibrant island community was burnt to the ground in a ferocious fire, the Island is celebrated in all its glory, and tragedy. At the most dramatic scene in the story, the entire island will glow red, portraying the moment the entire Isola Comacina was engulfed in flames. The emotive 45-minute display ends in a grandiose finale of fireworks, followed by a wave of applauds and cheers from the gathered crowds, boats and steamers.
On the Sunday, a traditional lake custom will then take place. A flotilla of decorated ‘Lucie’ boats carrying costumed rowers, musicians and religious groups from the village head to the Isola Comacina. Disembarking on the island, the religious procession then makes its way to the ancient ruins of the Basilica Saint Eufemia, where a solemn Holy Mass is performed.
The traditional local religious procession is later followed by another festival custom; the Regatta of San Giovanni! This popular spectacle sees various lake village teams compete in a unique boat race, using the traditional ‘Lucie’ lake boats.
With plenty of regional food, drinks and merriment to savour this weekend, the San Giovanni Festival guarantees a truly memorable moment to your Lake Como holiday.
Isola Comacina, Loc. Ossuccio, 22016 Tremezzina (CO)
Saturday 22nd – Sunday 23rd June 2019